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Nov 6, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

On Tuesday, voters in Houston took to the polls and said no to Prop 1.

That’s a ballot measure that would have outlawed discrimination at work against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and job applicants.

Amanda Terkel at The Huffington Post reports that, despite having widespread support from local and national politicians and businesses, the measure failed, in large part, because of the “bathroom” issue. That is, many voters did not want transgender women using the women’s restroom (and vice-versa).

Meanwhile, on Tuesday in our Nation’s Capital, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights issued a “groundbreaking report” revealing a high rate of discrimination against transgender job applicants.

You can read the OHS press release here and the OHS report here.

The report highlights the following statistics:

  • Nearly half (48 percent) of employers appeared to prefer at least one less-qualified applicant perceived as cisgender (individuals who do not identify as transgender or gender non-conforming) over a more-qualified applicant perceived as transgender;
  • One third (33 percent) of employers offered interviews to one or more less-qualified applicants perceived as cisgender while not offering an interview to at least one of the more-qualified applicants perceived as transgender;
  • The applicant perceived as a transgender man with previous work experience at a transgender advocacy organization experienced the highest rate of discrimination among the applicants.

And unlike Houston, the District of Columbia explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So, wow! We still have a ways to go.

But, regardless of where you conduct business, even if it’s in a state or locality without an LGBT discrimination law, just remember:

  • Notwithstanding the vote in Houston, the national trend favors state and local laws that protect LGBT members of the workforce.
  • Eradicating LGBT discrimination is a right near the top of the EEOC hot list.
  • While federal law may not expressly prohibit LGBT discrimination, as discussed here yesterday, same-sex sexual harassment, sex stereotyping, and retaliating against an employee for complaining about such behavior can land you in hot water.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.